New Delhi: Two recent attacks on churches including gang-rape of a nun in Kolkata has once again drawn attention towards the condition of Christian community living in India.
On Saturday, a 70-year-old nun was gang-raped by dacoits at a school at Ranaghat in Nadia district of West Bengal. The incident triggered protests and outrage across the state.
A day earlier, an under-construction church in Kaimri village near Hisar was vandalised by a group of miscreants and cross was replaced with an idol of Hanuman. The incident triggered tension in the area.
It should be noted that attack on Churches continued even after Prime Minister Narendra Modi strongly came out against such incidents. Last month, he had strongly condemned such attacks and assured the Christian community that the government would 'act strongly' without tolerance for fanaticism of any kind.
"Government will not allow any religious group belonging to majority or minority to incite hatred against others overtly or covertly," Modi had said.
Earlier, US President Barack Obama, who had visited India in January this year, had reminded Indians that their country can succeed as it is not splintered along religious lines.
"India will succeed so long as it is not splintered along the lines of religious faith, as long as it is not splintered along any lines, and it is unified as one nation. Your Article 25 (of the Constitution) says that all people are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and have the right to profess, practice and propagate religion," Obama had said.
But series of attacks in last few months have given a 'wrong impression' with Christians lodging their strong protest.
Christians are the minority in Delhi, which has a population of around 17 million. They represent just 2 percent of India's population of 1.2 billion.
Let's take a look at the incidents in the past that saw attacks and ransacking of churches by unidentified miscreants in last few months:
Nun gang-rape in Kolkata
1. On Saturday (March 14), a nun was brutalised by a gang of bandits inside the Convent of Jesus and Mary in Ranaghat, some 80 km from Kolkata. The incident caused revulsion in the state and beyond.
Police said that six men, aged between 20 and 30, scaled the boundary wall around 11.40 pm and entered the school and disconnected the telephone lines. At least two of them were armed and the rest were carrying burglary tools. In the chapel, a holy scripture was found torn and bust of Jesus was broken.
Church vandalised in Hisar
2. Starting from Hisar incident, Father Subhash Chand of Williwarsh Church said that attackers fragmented the cross and installed the statue of Lord Hanuman and a flag depicting Lord Ram and threatened to kill him.
Police said that they have registered a case against 14 persons under Sections 147 (Punishment for rioting), 153A (promoting enmity between groups), 295 (destroying, damaging a place of worship with intent to insult the religion of any class of persons), 380 (theft in a building), 506 (criminal intimidation) of IPC.
Not only churches, members of Christian community are also harassed.
Church gutted down in Telangana
3. In early January, the Protestant church at Tadur village in Mahabubnagar district of Telangana was given to flames and completely destroyed by unknown people. It was the only church in the village, built with bamboo and straw. The fire destroyed Bibles and holy books.
Five churches attacked in Delhi
4. Moving towards national capital, on December 1 last year, a major fire broke out at a church in Dilshad Garden area of national capital. Police registered a case under IPC Section 436 (arson) following allegations by parish members that the fire was not accidental.
Following this, the police provided security to all 225 churches in the capital. But attack on Churches continued.
5. Few days later, the Syro Malabar Catholic Church in Jasola was attacked. Reports of stone pelting were reported from here.
6. On January 3, the Christmas Crib at Rohini's Church of Resurrection was mysteriously burnt.
7. Another Catholic church was vandalised by two unidentified men in west Delhi's Vikaspuri on January 14.
8. On February 2, a church in south Delhi's Vasant Kunj area was vandalised. Members of St Alphonsa's church said that unidentified people jumped in from the main gate wall and broke opened the main gate of the church. Police said that prayer items kept in the church were thrown around and some other things were also broken.